Sunday, August 18, 2013

Wifi, board review and modern learners

The first day of the ASN Board Review Course I sat down for lunch and the topic of conversation was, "Where is the internet?"

The conference organizers had not purchased WiFi for the conference. The fifth floor of the Chicago Marriott was described by one participant as a Verizon black hole. Another participant added that Sprint was useless too. The only cellular service with reasonable penetration to our fortress of IP solitude was AT&T.

No WiFi for You!

It was interesting hearing why doctors wanted the internet while at a conference. One would think that being locked in lectures from 6:30AM to 6:30PM while various experts sprayed information at you would satisfy any urges for more details. But instead, doctors want to engage with the material. One Baltimore nephrologiast wanted to look up an article at CJASN that she saw referenced. Another wanted to fact check something she thought was unreliable against UpToDate. I wanted to be tweeting.

Earlier that day, as I walked from my Airbnb apartment to the conference, I traded texts with Kenar Jhaveri and Matt Sparks about live tweeting the board review conference. They agreed when I promised to save any snark for my own tweet stream and just tweet the facts on eAJKD. I checked with the ASN representative at the registration desk if they had a social media policy.

That went down as follows:
Unfortunately my plan to live tweet the conference dried up up without WiFi or cellular service. After the first day of the conference I found an AT&T store and bought a Unite mobile hotspot. I used it to live tweet the conference for the next 4 days. It worked great. I returned it before leaving Chicago. The whole buy and return plan amounted to $40 for wifi access for 4 days. Actually a bit better than typical hotel charges.
I think it is misguided for the ASN BRC not to provide internet access at their class. As modern day information warriors doctors use the internet everyday in protean ways.

  • We use it to educate our patients
  • We use it to verify the wild claims of drug companies
  • We use it to jog our memory of barely remembered facts that suddenly become clinically relevant

It is absurd to expect us to go through the most intense learning experience without that crutch.

The lack of WiFI makes the conference organizers seem out of touch. The ASN need to recognize that for modern doctors, the internet is as essential as oxygen.

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